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LATEST UPDATES: Racial Justice | Tracking COVID-19 (coronavirus)

County Health Officials Say Current Coronavirus Cases “Tip Of The Iceberg”

County public health officer Dr. Wilma Wooten gives an update on the county's...

Photo by Matt Hoffman

Above: County public health officer Dr. Wilma Wooten gives an update on the county's effort to fight the coronavirus at the County Operations Center on March 5, 2020.

The number of confirmed cases of novel coronavirus in San Diego County rose Thursday to 105 and includes the region's first case among a resident under the age of 20, and health officials warned the crisis will get worse before it gets better.

"The numbers at this point are really only the tip of the iceberg," said Dr. Nick Yphantides, San Diego County's chief medical officer, at a news conference before updated figures were released late Thursday afternoon. "You might think we have 3.3 million people living here; that 80 cases is insignificant. That iceberg is increasing in size under the water. Do not have a false sense of security."

The 25 newly recorded cases is the highest day-to-day growth yet — with one involving a San Diego County resident between the ages of 10-19. There have been 13 hospitalizations attributed to the illness, but no deaths.

Of the 105 positive cases, 89 are residents of the county — 11 of them hospitalized; eight are under federal quarantine, with one of those patients hospitalized; and eight are non-residents, one of whom is hospitalized. The vast majority — 85 cases — of those who have tested positive have been under the age of 60.

It is hoped that a series of health orders that went into effect earlier this week and Thursday morning might be enough to slow the spread of coronavirus, known as COVID-19, but it's impossible to tell at this point, health officials said.

"I would be careful looking at day-to-day numbers," said Dr. Eric McDonald, the county's head of epidemiology. "Because the incubation period is up to two weeks, there will certainly be a delay in any action we take."

Health officials have asked local hospitals and laboratories to comply with county orders to report all testing results, positive or negative. A lack of reagent fluids is limiting the number of tests many facilities can complete a day, throwing off regional estimates of testing capabilities.

New public health orders took effect Thursday in response to the increasing number of coronavirus cases, including the closure all gyms and fitness centers, a ban on gatherings of 10 or more and restriction of childcare to "stable" groups of 10 children with one childcare provider.

The "stable" vocabulary refers to the same group of 10 children each day and the same provider each day, county Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten said Wednesday. If a daycare or related business has more than 10 children, each group needs to be in separate rooms and cannot intermingle. Social distancing is encouraged even among the subgroups.

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